This was an extremely contentious case involving serious allegations of substance abuse. The parties had one child together and, because they were never married, Father did not have any enforceable parental rights. Mother exploited this situation and dangled parenting time to coerce and control Father.
Father retained our child custody attorneys to formally establish parenting time and legal decision-making. Because Mother was unreasonably restricting Father’s access, we also filed for temporary orders to establish an immediate parenting schedule that would allow Father to exercise meaningful parenting time with his child while this case was pending.
Mother hired one of the most experienced family law attorneys in Phoenix, an attorney who has practiced for nearly 40 years. When hiring an attorney, some people prefer an older, more experienced attorney, assuming that it offers a competitive advantage. In this case, the attorney stubbornly refused to negotiate in good faith and made unreasonable requests in Mother’s response to our petition. Mother’s attorney demanded she retain final say legal decision-making authority and be designated as the child’s primary residence. Mother also alleged that Father abused alcohol and requested that he be ordered to submit to random testing. Of course, Mother also sought an award of her attorney’s fees, pursuant to A.R.S. § 25-324.
Though we tried sincerely to resolve this matter without trial, Mother’s positions during negotiations deteriorated from just legally unsupportable to completely absurd. We proceeded to trial where we carefully made the case for essentially the exact opposite of all of Mother’s requests. We asked the family court to award final say to Father and to name Father as the primary residential parent. We also used Mother’s unreasonableness to preclude her claim for attorney’s fees.
After taking the matter under advisement, the court entered its ruling granting all of our requests.
Mother’s attorney, who bills hourly, proceeded to file several more pleadings, including a motion for reconsideration which was denied. So while this matter could probably be resolved, Mother has incurred significant legal fees for what she would almost certain describe as the worst possible outcome in her case.
Cost Comparison: In this case, our flat fee saved Father more than $10,000 compared to a child custody attorney who bills hourly at $250.00.